EUobserver / Obama to skip EU-US summit in Madrid: "In a speech held in Paris last Friday, Ms Clinton however rejected the idea that 'the Obama administration is so focused on foreign policy challenges elsewhere in the world that Europe has receded in our list of priorities.'"
It looks like President Obama is not coming to the EU-US meeting in May that apparently is going to be held in Madrid due to the chairmanship of Spain. There has been some confusion as to it being placed in Brussels instead due to van Rompuy and Lady Ashton. Spain left it open, however, since dignitaries often show up at the last moment.
After reading the State of the Union speech I thought that since the treatment of the abroad was treated so summarily that we have now a US with an Interior Minister, Obama, and a Secretary of State, Clinton. The president is gone until the mid-term elections perhaps. Regular wisdom hold that when the President is gone there is not much clout in the Secretary of State.
What this might mean is that Europe might act more independently. Especially in the Middle East. After all, this more our neighborhood. I'm particularly thinking of Iran since Israel is a little more a US question due to the larger diaspora. After all Iran calls the US the "Great Satan" but does not have the same epithet for the EU. I would like to remind the audience of a report issued by ECFR or European Council of Foreign Relations, a think tank, called Towards a post-American Europe: A power audit of US-EU relations.
However, Siemens, the German world leading engineering company, has stated that they would stop signing new contracts in Iran coming mid-2010. This is a a reaction to the seizure of two German diplomats during the Ashura celebration for a tentative role in the uprisings. German exports to Iran had decreased 8% during January to November 2009 while the total German export went down 19% due to the financial crisis. It remains to be seen if Lady Ashton is going to have more luck in the diplomatic dealings with Iran than had Javier Solana.
Based on experience this would have to mean the discussion of something else than their nuclear program. However, it is possible that the P5+1 talks with Iran concerning this topic is being greased with the Taiwan arms sales by the US so as to make it easier for the Chinese to understand how the West feels about the risk involved with Iran? Hillary Clinton would need the Chinese vote in the UN Security Council for stronger sanctions.
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